As violent attacks against Jews worldwide drop to their lowest in more than 10 years, the United States, particularly college campuses, have been the “hotbed of anti-Semitism,” according to a new report.
The report by researchers at Tel Aviv University, which covers data from 40 countries, found that violent anti-Semitic incidents, which include attacks with and without weapons, arson, and vandalism or desecration, have been on a downward trend in the past few years. Last year, for instance, logged 361 incidents, a 12 percent drop from 410 in 2015. The highest recorded in nearly 30 years – 1,118 incidents – was in 2009.
The report, published Sunday – the first day of the week-long Days of Remembrance – is from the Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry, Tel Aviv University’s anti-Semitism watchdog.
Researchers found that anti-Semitic incidents dropped by more than half last year in European countries like France and Belgium. They attribute such decreases to more rigorous security measures and law enforcement presence, and heightened surveillance on extremist groups. France, for example, sent 10,000 soldiers to patrol the streets, particularly in Paris.
The drop in the number of violent incidents, however, does not indicate that anti-Semitism is dissipating. It simply means that anti-Jewish sentiments have been manifested in other ways.
“The enemies of the Jewish people have found new avenues to express their anti-Semitism – with significant increase of hate online and against less protected targets like cemeteries,” Moshe Kantor, president of the European Jewish Congress, said in a statement. “This means that in fact, the motivation has not declined and the sense of security felt by many Jewish communities remains precarious.”
A research by the World Jewish Congress, for instance, found that anti-Semitic messages from around the world were posted every 83 seconds last year. Many were on Twitter. Such online threats and harassments are more common in English-speaking countries that have traditionally been welcoming to Jews, according to the report.
The United Kingdom, for instance, saw 557 anti-Semitic incidents in the first half of 2016. That’s 11 percent above those recorded within the same time frame in 2015. The total includes vandalisms, hate mails, verbal abuse and social media threats.
In the United States, campuses, which the report describes as “a hotbed of anti-Semitism,” saw a 45 percent increase in anti-Jewish sentiments.
The AMCHA Initiative, which investigates anti-Semitism on college campuses, had a similar finding. Researchers who looked at dozens of public and private colleges and universities found 287 anti-Semitic incidents during the first half of 2016. That’s a 45 percent increase from incidents reported during the first half of 2015.
Another new report by the Anti-Defamation League found that anti-Semitic incidents at non-Jewish elementary, middle and high schools totaled 235 last year – a 106 percent jump from 2015.
But anti-Semitism in the United States, particularly over the past year or so, goes beyond schools and universities. The Anti-Defamation League found that anti-Semitic incidents overall, which it says were driven by the presidential election, skyrocketed last year and in first months of 2017.
For example, last year logged a total of 1,266 anti-Semitic incidents, including harassment, threats, vandalism and assaults. That’s a jump by more than a third from 2015, according to the report.
Preliminary reports on the first quarter of this year show that incidents appear to have accelerated, already totaling 541 so far. That’s an 86 percent jump from the same period last year, the report says.
Specifically, incidents involving harassment and threats have jumped significantly – by 127 percent this year and 41 percent last year. These include more than 100 bomb threats at Jewish institutions around the country. Vandalism incidents, including desecration of three Jewish cemeteries, are up by 36 percent so far this year.
The Anti-Defamation League report also reflects the downward trend on physical assaults worldwide. Thirty-six such incidents were reported in 2015, a 35 percent decrease from the year before. Six so far have been reported this year, about 40 percent lower than the first quarter of 2016.
The report also says that many of the incidents are connected to the presidential election and appear to have been carried out by supporters of President Trump. For example, a graffiti reported in Colorado in May says, “Kill the Jews, Vote Trump.” In November, a Florida man reported that someone had accosted him and said, “Trump is going to finish what Hitler started.”
In the social media realm, numbers have been just as worrisome.
A 2016 Anti-Defamation League study found that 2.6 million tweets posted from August 2015 to July 2016 contained anti-Semitic language. More than 19,000 of those tweets were directed at thousands of journalists across the country.
The Tel Aviv University report mentions far-right personalities, such as Richard Spencer and Andrew Anglin, as the main purveyors of hate against Jews in the United States.
Spencer, described by the hate-watch group Southern Poverty Law Center as an “academic racist,” coined the term “alt-right,” which refers to a small, far-right movement that seeks a whites-only state and whose members are known for espousing racist, anti-Semitic and sexist points of view.
Anglin, who runs a well-known neo-Nazi website, is the subject of a lawsuit accusing him of orchestrating a campaign targeting a Jewish woman and her family.
In mid-December, Anglin’s website, the Daily Storm, began publishing articles encouraging readers to “troll storm” Tanya Gersh, a Whitefish, Mont., real estate agent whom the publication accused of “trying to extort” Sherry Spencer, Richard Spencer’s mother. The alt-right leader is from Whitefish.
Gersh and her family have since received more than 700 harassing messages, The Washington Post’s Abby Ohlheiser reported. One of which was a photo-shopped image of her 12-year-old son being crushed by Nazi trucks. Others were emails sent to Gersh’s work colleagues to try to get her fired.